photo: Ray Wood
South Gully, Cwm Idwal photo: Garry Smith

Winter Climbing in North Wales

When winter time comes knocking at the door and the first light frosts leave a delicate icy covering on grassy fronds and plants, the climbers world begins to buzz with expectations of the coming big freeze. As the frost takes hold and the flow of water begins to slow, turning gradually but inexorably to ice, climbers make their first forays to test what might be 'in'.

The higher crags dampened by autumn rains will be first to come into condition - Cwm Idwal and Cwm Cneifion, Glyder Fach, The Black Ladders and of course Clogwyn y Garnedd high on Snowdon... Early ascents may be scratchy but with luck and a prolonged cold spell the ice will thicken, larger streams will freeze over and eventually the cascading waterfalls will freeze solid. In a 'good' winter spell of continually low temperatures when hardly a drop of water can flow without turning quickly to ice almost anything is possible and great things are achieved when ice and climbers meet.

The Devils Appendix, Cascade, The Black Cleft and exceptionally Aber Falls are classics of the genre and ice hungry climbers, picks and crampons honed to razor sharpness will beat an eager path to savour the usually fleeting moments in time when conditions are perfect.

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Top Winter Climbing Venues in North Wales

Pick of the Ice Pops

Family & Fun

  • A Walk round Cwm Idwal is one of the finest and most accessible venues for a winter wonderland walk. However, everyone in your party will need walking crampons as a minimum to cope with the any compacted snow or ice on the paths.

photo: Simon Panton

50 Shades of Great

  • Parsley Fern on Clogwyn Y Ddyysgl - the classic Grade I snow climb and sometimes with a spectacular cornice to circumnavigate at the top. Watch out for skiers on their way down!

photo: Simon Panton

Out There

  • The Devil's Appendix is one the most dramatic ice features in the UK. When it's fully formed, experienced winter climbers congregate in Cwm Idwal hoping to have a pop at this challenging VI 6 route.

photo: Ray Wood